Further Proofs: Male Circumcision Cuts AIDS Risk By 50%

Way back in April, Barbados Free Press wrote that an African conference on AIDS reported that male circumcision substantially cuts the risk of HIV transmission. Now, the New York Times is reporting that clinical trials in Africa have shown a 50% reduction and more in the transmission rates of circumcised men vs. non-circumcised.

Isn’t it about time that health and educational authorities on Barbados incorporated this into their anti-AIDS campaigns?

12 Comments

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12 responses to “Further Proofs: Male Circumcision Cuts AIDS Risk By 50%

  1. LadyDi

    Males should wear condoms. They should not have to cut off a body part.

  2. Yeah, Lady Di- like they should let their toenails grow long, wear a beard and hair longer than yours. Get real, this is a big problem, and circumcision represents a simple way in reducing the spread.

    Some African tribes traditionally circumcised males. It was the fact that such tribes had such a low incidence of AIDS that caused researchers to stop and think.

  3. Cynic

    Mastectomy reduces breast cancer rates fantastically… maybe we should do that too

  4. LadyDi

    Circumcision is not a simple way and not a 100% guarantee. There is an article in the 14 December 2006 edition of the New York Times (see link below) that states that it only lessens a man’s chances of developing the disease through heterosexual contact. How many men do you think are willingly going to be circumcised? It’s not going to happen. If we are talking about circumcising babies and the next generation, then maybe it is a solution.

    Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/health/14hiv.html?em&ex=1166245200&en=0cd0bc374f64cea1&ei=5070

  5. I did not know about BFP back in April, so missed that posting. There is much more to this story that has to be told. It is rather long but fascinating, and entails very personal details. Reader discretion advised!

    You may find it hard to believe that there has been a concerted effort by European physicians to prevent reconsideration of male circumcision since 1949, when Dr Douglas Gairdner published “The Fate of the Foreskin” as a result of which circumcision was largely discontinued. He condemned it as body mutilation without any health benefit. Moreover it was associated with female circumcision which is a widespread practice mainly in Africa and has no known benefits. To the contrary it is a dangerous and gruesome operation whose main purpose is to prevent girls and wives enjoying sex and reaching orgasm, so that they are not tempted to be unfaithful.

    I happened to be in London in November 2000 when BBC 2 showed the one-hour documentary, The Valley of Life or Death, which showed beyond doubt that the only place where the HIV virus can remain active on the outside of the body is the frenum, the portion behind the head of the penis. After circumcision this area is exposed to the air and the HIV virus cannot survive. Without circumcision it remains a hotbed of HIV infestation, ready to spread to a sexual partner.

    The documentary was so convincing I thought there would be an immediate revolution in medical thinking. Not so. It was largely ignored as a medical breakthrough, and doctors were unyielding in their policy condemning male circumcision. (Except in the U.S. where it is still widespread).

    This so incensed me that I wrote to BBC trying to buy a copy of their documentary to give to the Barbados health authorities in the hope they would be enlightened enough to be persuaded. I was given a big runaround about only being available to registered health practitioners or educational institutions, etc, which I am not. All I could get was the verbatim transcript of the 60 min. documentary which tells the whole story without seeing the lovely African scenery. Perhaps BFP will consider posting it for all to read?

    I gave up eventually when I realised I was wasting my time trying to get doctors to back off from the policy set by British Medical Assoc. and other bodies saying male circumcision not only served no useful purpose but in fact could dause infection (of a small fraction of babies).

    “BMA consider male circumcision to be a radical, invasive procedure, and state that unless conservative treatments are tried first, a therapeutic circumcision would be UNETHICAL”

    It was clear to me that the medical fraternity out bone-headed obstinacy were unprepared to reconsider basic policy despite the number of lives that would be saved particularly in Sub Sahara Africa. They were just unprepared to back down from one docotor’s views they regarded as gospel.

    So it is wonderful news that the truth is finally emerging to the wide world, and may get somewhere in changing practice. But it is criminal that it has taken this long for the penny to drop, and that countless thousands of African lives have been needlessly lost to HIV/AIDS as a result.

    I would recommend that the Min of Health obtain a copy from BBC archives to show on TV and let the Barbados our Medical Board and the public judge for themselves the evidence. I am sure they will be persuaded it is sensible to have male infants circumcised when it is a simple procedure.

  6. Lady Di- I did not mean to sound anti condoms. Obviously they are the best defense against disease and casual pregnancy- if one is available at the time. You are right, male circumcision should be reintroduced for infants so long as the AIDS scourge continues. But you may not be aware that circumcision of grown men is now quite widespread in certain African countries where in desperation they see it as the only recourse for a chance to live.

    Cynic- Do you think your comment was helpful on so serious a topic. Amuse at any price?

  7. not the old anonymous

    A friend of mine just got back from teaching in Tanzania and she was horrified at what she saw being taught in the AIDS awareness programme where she was.

    Sex is a forbidden topic in social culture, so children of 10 and up were being taught that AIDS comes from sharing needles (and get this) and sharing clothes.

    Therefore one should remain faithful to your wife or husband and not share clothes with anyone else.

    Condoms are still virtually unknown, and where they exist in the area my friend was teaching in, they are washed and reused or washed and loaned to friends, then washed and reused.

    My friend called this the “booga booga” factor. No matter what is taught over there by both foreign or native teachers, you can’t get past the fact that in the outlying areas, there is only a veneer of civilization and civilized culture as we know it.

    Booga Booga factor. That’s what everyone calls it over there.

  8. LadyDi

    Hello Naive – THANKS for explaining your point. I did some more research and read that many men in Africa are now voluntarily being circumcised. The numbers still seem quite low for it to be a reliable solution and I am worried that people will consider this a cure-all method but will continue at risk behavior.

  9. Lady Di- I quite agree that male circumcision of adults is no “solution” to the AIDS problem, even though it will save a great many lives. There is admittedly the risk that some may get overconfident and stop using condoms, but educating them to smarten up will be easier than preaching abstinence.

    However I do think reintroducing circumcision of infants as a standard practice is desirable so long as HIV/AIDS is spreading worldwide. PBS’ newshour on Channel 503 tonight confirmed the NY Times figure that such measures will reduce the spread of the disease by 50%! That is massive compared to the other futile steps being taken- education of youth not to have unprotected sex, chastity until marriage etc.

    Apart from giving millions of young people prospects of normal life expectancy, it will remove a massive financial burden from health services. Despite many years of extolling the virtues of condoms, even those fortunate enough to have access to them resist using them, while the great majority never see them as Not-the-Old -Anonymous mentions.

    Circumcision for newborn males is a simple, cheap, effective, lifetime step towards cutting HIV/AIDS by half. It is crazy not to adopt it.

  10. I wonder how long before another study is brought out that contradicts everything this one claims.

    What about the women tho?Using the articles logic..circumcision will help prevent males from catchin it….so whats there to help females?

  11. Disp Arts- This study came out back in 2000 and was contradicted and ignored by all those opposed to circumcision. It has taken six years for the claims to be proved irrefutable in the face of medical obstinacy. However there are always people determined not to accept something they opppose despite contrary proof. I believe that is called “Denial.”

    I thought you would know… females catch HIV from males. If half as many males have HIV it follows, I think, that half as many females will be infected? Unless they are very naughty.

  12. Hmmmm

    In the United States, statistics show AIDS is ranked among the top three causes of death for African-American women ages 35-44. I watched a television program recently that said that there are 80 Black American men for every100 Black American women. This lack of available men is due to a high incidence of men who have been murdered, are in jail, or are gay. So, that means that many men are involved with several women at once. Considering that 70% of Black American children are born out of wedlock, one could say that a lot of people are being naughty.